Employees at Ford Motor Company's Bridgend Plant are celebrating the launch of a new line producing engines for the company's premier brands. The 4.4-litre V8 petrol engines, being built on the South Wales plant's second premium engine line, will first appear in the all-new Land Rover Discovery 3 which debuted at last month's New York Auto Show.
Bridgend has already been producing V8 engines for Jaguar for more than eight years. Three V8 engines, in 3.5 and 4.2-litre sizes, are assembled for Jaguar's XJ, XK and S-Type luxury saloons and sports cars.
Land Rover say the Discovery's top-of-the-range Bridgend-built engine offers more low end torque, enhanced dust and water proofing and revised breathing to enable the car to more easily wade rivers and cruise highways.
The plant's Jaguar and Land Rover team has spent more than three years preparing for production following the announcement of a $425 million investment in Bridgend. In early 2001 the company announced Bridgend had won a new business package from the company's premium brands which will take capacity to one million engines a year by 2010.
John Fleming, Ford's European manufacturing vice president, said: "The whole Bridgend team can be proud of reaching today's landmark in the plant's investment programme. Employees have shown they have the flexibility and dedication necessary to launch successfully such a key product in the plant's range."
Joe Greenwell, chairman and CEO of Jaguar and Land Rover, said: "Jaguar and now Land Rover are among Bridgend plant's completely satisfied customers. This is an example of a Ford Motor Company facility supplying engines to different parts of the organisation without compromising any of its brands."
Gerwyn Lloyd, Bridgend plant convener, commented: "We have worked for many years in a genuine partnership here at Bridgend and the professional and mature attitude of the workforce to accept changes and meet commitments has attracted work. In the UK generally it is difficult enough to maintain employment levels, so it is a real coup to increase employment levels and go against the trend of manufacturing in the UK."
Today's launch features the first moving assembly line section to be installed in any European Ford engine plant. On part of the line operators move with the engines they are working on, a feature which leads to increased efficiency.
As well as its Jaguar and Land Rover products, Bridgend also builds Zetec and Zetec SE four cylinder petrol engines for Ford's Fiesta and Focus models. The plant opened in May 1980 and currently employs around 1,500 people – scheduled to rise towards 2,000 in the next three years.
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